What is zero trust cyber security?

Zero trust is an IT security model used to store sensitive information on a private network. The model requires individuals to undergo a strict identity verification process in order to gain access to this type of data.

In simple terms, most traditional IT networks (such as home or public networks) trust everyone by default and provide access to anything and everything within that network with no questions asked. The Zero Trust model takes the approach of not trusting anyone at all, making data exploitation much harder, which in turn makes the data more secure.

The biggest danger and downfall of using traditional IT networks is their sheer lack of cyber security and scepticism of user access. They give users complete free reign over everything, including sensitive information.

Another issue is that most network providers no longer hold data in one place, instead, it is scattered across various cloud storage systems. This makes it much more difficult to have control over one network and the security of your data.


4 core principles of a Zero Trust model


Least privilege access

This principle ensures that users are only given as much access as is needed, no more no less. Least privilege access minimises the risk of data being damaged, deleted, stolen or compromised in any way by an untrustworthy individual.

Having this level of control over what information users can view and areas that they can access ensures that user permissions are managed efficiently and securely.


Regular monitoring and verification

As we outlined earlier in the post, the zero trust model follows the philosophy that no one can be trusted. It assumes that cyber attackers are present both inside and outside of the zero trust network and therefore behaves as if that is the case.

The network regularly performs maintenance checks, time out connections and monitoring to ensure that users are identified and are only accessing areas that have been permitted to them.


Multi-factor authentication

You will be very familiar with this process as it is so widely used by not only networks but also browsers, apps, accounts and more.

Multi-factor authentication is one of the most important ways of protecting your data and adding an additional core level of cyber security.

This authentication process often requires a secondary piece of evidence that validates your identity. Having access to the password of the account is no longer enough to be permitted further access. The verification process may request a unique code that was sent to your mobile phone or a secondary email address as a way of confirming your identity.


Lateral movement prevention

Zero trust networks are designed to contain an attacker (or any other unauthorised individual) inside of its segment, in order to prevent them from moving laterally or to other areas of the network. 

The idea is to block and quarantine the attacker, once their presence has been detected, and cut them off from further access as a way of protecting sensitive information.

While the zero trust model is more restrictive and strict, it does create a very secure environment to store data and protect it against unauthorised access.

Data access will only be granted to those that can prove their trust and identity, something that a traditional IT network doesn’t require users to do.

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